Many boxing fans argued that Ali's speed and ability would blind Frazier, while others thought Frazier's superior punching power combined with Ali's long absence from the ring would give the advantage to Frazier. On the night of the fight, there were riots in many United States cities, including Chicago, where a whole theater was almost torn apart by angry attendees who had just learned they would not be able to watch the fight on closed-circuit TV.
he fight itself exceeded even its promotional hype and went the full 15-round championship distance. Ali dominated the first three rounds, peppering the shorter Frazier with rapier-like jabs that raised welts on the champion's face.
Frazier began to dominate in the fourth round, catching Ali with several of his famed left hooks and pinning him against the ropes to deliver tremendous body blows.
Ali was visibly tired after the sixth round, and though he put together some flurries of punches after that round, he was unable to keep the pace he had set in the first third of the fight. His speed and combinations kept him on roughly even terms with Frazier, however, and the fight was very close until late in round 11. During that round Frazier caught Ali, backed into a corner, with a crushing left hook that almost floored Ali, sending him falling into the ropes. Ali managed to survive the round, but from then on Frazier seemed to come back in the next three rounds.
At the end of round 14, Frazier held a lead on the three scorecards. Early in round 15, Frazier landed a spectacular left hook that put Ali on his back (for only the third time in his career). Ali, his right jaw swollen grotesquely, got up from the blow quickly, and managed to stay on his feet for the rest of the round despite several terrific blows from Frazier. A few minutes later the judges made it official: Frazier had retained the title with a unanimous decision, dealing Ali his first professional loss.
Ali would win the rematch in 1974 and their rubber match in 1975.
9-6, 11-4 and 8-6 - Frazier
AP - 9-5-1 Frazier
UPI - 7-7-1 Draw
Ali and Frazier were guaranteed purses of $2.5 million each, then a record for a single prizefight.
Frazier was the WBC/WBA Champ; Ali was the lineal champ
Frazier nearly suffered a stroke after the bout and rumors circulated he'd died.